- Title: EU commits "historic error" by blocking Balkan hopefuls, Juncker says
- Date: 18th October 2019
- Summary: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (OCTOBER 18, 2019) (REUTERS) MAN FILMING WITH MOBILE PHONE
- Embargoed: 1st November 2019 14:32
- Keywords: Balkans France legacy Kurds error Turkey mistake Albania Macron European Union Ceasefire North Macedonia Frederiksen accession talks
- Location: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- City: BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
- Country: Belgium
- Topics: European Union,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA004B1ML6X3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Council president Donald Tusk, worried by growing Chinese and Russian influence in the Balkans, said on Friday (October 18) EU members made a 'historic error' by refusing to let North Macedonia and Albania start talks on joining the EU.
Though the 28 EU governments see Balkan membership as inevitable one day, French President Emmanuel Macron opposed the start of entry talks with Albania and North Macedonia, explaining that 'all the progress requested is not there.'
Macron told reporters that the membership bids could not progress until the EU, with its complex decision-making structures, changed - though he did not say how it must do so.
Another point of disagreement between leaders was the next seven-year EU budget, which leaders had hoped to agree by the end of this year.
While countries and other net recipients sought an increase, others like Denmark said it did not 'have the money to increase the budget.'
On Turkey's offensive in Syria, Tusk said the halt of hostilities announced was not a genuine ceasefire and called on Ankara to immediately stop military operations there.
Asked about their legacy in what should be the last summit of their term, Tusk and Juncker refused to go on in details with the former Polish prime minister saying it would be too long for Juncker and 'for me too brief.'
An emotional Juncker added he would remain proud until the end of his life to 'have been able to serve Europe'.
(Production Clement Rossignol, Christian Levaux, Elena Gyldenkerne, Ardee Napolitano)
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